1998 NRA Firearms Fact Card


"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
Like all rights protected by the Bill of Rights, the right to keep and bear arms is possessed by each American individually. Gun prohibitionists' 20th-century "collective right" Second Amendment interpretation is a fraud. The Framers understood that people are individually "endowed by their Creator" with rights and that states only possess such "powers" as the people allow.
The Supreme Court has ruled in few cases addressing Second Amendment-related issues. The Court recognized that the right to arms is an individual right in U.S. v. Cruikshank (1876), Presser v. Illinois (1886), Miller v. Texas (1894), U.S. v. Miller (1939) and U.S. v. Verdugo -Urquidez (1990). Lower federal court decisions have been divided on whetherve been divided on whether the right to arms is individual or "collective," though those finding againstt the individual right are contrary to the Verdugo-Urquidez decision, in which the Court observed that the term "the people" has the same meaning in the Second Amendment as it does in the First, Fourth, Ninth and Tenth. "The people," the Court said, refers to all persons in our national community. These decisions support the generations-old understanding of the right to bear arms as one of our most important individual liberties.
Second Amendment revisionists claim the National Guard, rather than the general citizenry, is the Militia referred to in the Constitution. For more than 400 years, however, the term "well regulated militia" has meant the people, with privately owned weapons, led by officers chosen by themselves. "The Militia of the United States" is defined under federal law to include all able-bodied males of age and some other males and females (10 U.S.C., 311; 32 U.S.C., 313), with the Guard established as only its "organized" element. The Guard, however, is subject to absolute federal control (Supreme Court, Perpich v. Dept. of Defense, 1990) and thus is not the militia envisioned by the Framers.


Thirty-one states now have right-to-carry laws permitting law-abiding citizens to carry citizens to carry concealed firearms for protection against criminals. Twenty-two states have adopted right-to-carry in the last decade, 11 in the last two years. Half the U.S. population, including 60% of handgun owners, live in right-to-carry states.

Professor John R. Lott, Jr. and David B. Mustard, of the University of Chicago, have concluded that "allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons deters violent crimes, and it appears to produce no increase in accidental deaths. If those states which did not have right-to-carry concealed gun provisions had adopted them in 1992, approximately 1,570 murders; 4,177 rapes; and over 60,000 aggravated assaults would have been avoided yearly. . . . [T]he estimated annual gain from allowing concealed handguns is at least $6.214 billion. . . . [W]hen state concealed handgun laws went into effect in a county, murders fell by 8.5%, and rapes and aggravated assaults fell by 5% and 7%." ("Crime, Deterrence, And Right-To-Carry Concealed Handguns," 1997)

States with right-to-carry laws have lower overall violent crime rates, compared to states without right-to-carry laws. Total violent crime is 18% lower; homicide is 21% lower; robbery is 32% lower; and aggravated assault is 11% lower. Since Florida adopted right-to-carry in 1987, its homicide, firearm homicide, and handgun homicide rates haveicide rates have decreased 36%, 37%, and 41%, respectively, while the national homicide rate decreased 0.4% and firearm and handgun homicide rates increased 15% and 24%, respectively. (FBI) Less than two one-hundredths of 1% of Florida carry licenses have been revoked because of firearm crimes committed by licensees. (Florida Dept. of State)

Survey research by criminologist Gary Kleck indicates at least 2.5 million protective uses of firearms each year in the U.S., more than four times the reported number of violent crimes committed with firearms. Most protective uses do not involve discharge of a firearm. In only about 0.1% of protective gun uses are criminals killed, and in only 1% are criminals wounded. A Dept. of Justice survey found that 40% of felons chose not to commit at least some crimes for fear their victims were armed, and 34% admitted being scared off or shot at by armed victims. (James D. Wright, Peter H. Rossi, Armed and Considered Dangerous, 1986)


Military-looking semi-automatic rifles were involved in less than 1% of homicides before the "assault weapons" law took effect, and the same is true today. By comparison, 13% of homicides involve knives, 6% are committed with hands and feet, and bludgeons are used in 5%. For more than a century, semi-automatic firearms have beenirearms have been widely used for hunting, target shooting, and other lawful activities. Semi-automatic firearms are not machine guns, regardless of what gun control advocates want the American people to believe. Fifteen percent of privately owned firearms are semi-automatic. There are more "assault weapons" and "large capacity" ammunition magazines today than ever before, and crime is declining.

President Clinton claims new kinds of ammunition are being used to defeat bullet resistant vests and kill law enforcement officers, requiring an expansion of the federal "armor piercing ammunition" statute. No new armor piercing ammunition exists, however, and legislation proposed by the President would outlaw most calibers of rifle ammunition and many calibers of handgun ammunition. According to the FBI, of officers fatally shot during the last decade, 68% were not wearing vests. Of fatally shot officers who wore vests, 95% were shot in unprotected areas. No law enforcement officer has ever been killed because an "armor piercing" bullet defeated a protective vest.

Contrary to President Clinton's claims, the greatest threat to police officers comes not from "assault weapons" or "armor piercing ammunition," but from criminals and the justice system that fails to punish them &emdash; 70% of lawdash; 70% of law enforcement officers' killers have prior arrests, 53% have prior convictions, and 22% are on probation or parole when they take officers' lives.


Gun control advocates claim the Brady Act should be praised because it has prevented large numbers of people, including law-abiding citizens, from buying handguns. However, the Brady Act should instead be judged according to whether it prevents criminals from committing crimes with handguns. Brady's "5-day wait" does not prevent criminals from obtaining handguns. According to the General Accounting Office, only seven criminals were convicted of illegal attempts to buy handguns during the law's first 17 months. ("Implementation of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act," January 1996)

New York University professors James B. Jacobs and Kimberley A. Potter state: "It is hard to see the Brady law . . . as anything more than a sop to the widespread fear of crime.... There is little reason to accept the claim that Brady is preventing 40,000 dangerous and irresponsible persons per year from obtaining handguns." ("Keeping Guns Out Of The 'Wrong' Hands: The Brady Law And The Limits Of Regulation," The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Northwestern University School of Law, Fall 1995)

l 1995)

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has reported that only 7% of armed career criminals obtain firearms from licensed gun shops. ("Protecting America: The Effectiveness of the Federal Armed Career Criminal Statute," 1992) A study for the Department of Justice found that only 7% of "handgun predators" obtain firearms from licensed gun shops. ("Armed and Considered Dangerous: A Study of Felons and Their Firearms," James D. Wright and Peter H. Rossi, 1986) A National Association of Chiefs of Police poll released in May 1996 found that 85% of police chiefs believe that the Brady Act has not stopped criminals from obtaining handguns from illegal sources.

Most states are not subject to the Brady Act's 5-day waiting period. Six of every 10 violent crimes occur in states and cities, such as New York City, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., that have never been subject to the 5-day wait because they already have restrictive "gun control" laws. States that have been subject to the 5-day wait have experienced worse crime trends, overall, since the Brady Act took effect.



Fatal firearms accidents continue to decline. The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reports that the fatal firearm accident rate fell to an all-time low in 1995, 0.5 per 100,000 population. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates the same rate in 1996, well below rates for other types of fatal accidents, including motor vehicle (16.3), falls (5.3), poisonings (3.7), drownings (1.5), fires (1.2), and suffocation by ingested object (1.1).

The NCHS reports that in 1995 the annual number of fatal firearm accidents also fell to an all-time low (1,225, 1.3% of all fatal accidents), down by more than half since 1930, even as the population doubled and the number of firearms owned quadrupled. Among children (persons ages 0-14), there were 181 fatal firearm accidents, 2.7% of fatal accidents among children. The new figure is an all-time low, down 67% from the estimated all-time high of 550 in 1975.
550 in 1975.
While fatal firearms accidents are declining, those due to motor vehicle accidents are rising.


In 1976, Washington, D.C., enacted a virtual ban on handguns. By 1991, D.C.'s homicide rate had tripled, while the U.S. rate rose 12%. New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and D.C. &emdash; with very restrictive gun laws &emdash; make up only 5% of the U.S. population, yet account for 15% of U.S. murders.

California imposed a 15-day waiting period on handgun sales in 1975, and banned "assault weapons" in 1989 &emdash; yet its homicide and violent crime rates are 28% and 32% higher, respectively than the rest of the country's. In 1975, South Carolina limited handgun sales to individuals to one per month. Within 15 years, South Carolina's violent crime rate doubled.

Some have claimed D.C.'s homicide rate declined due to Virginia's 1993 law limiting handgun purchases to one per month. That belief is based on the illogical notion that D.C. murderers would obey a Virginia state law while violating a multitude of much harsher federal and D.C. gun laws.


From 1960-1980, the number of prison inmates per 1,000 violent crimes dropped from 738imes dropped from 738 to 227, and the crime rate tripled. Each year more than 265,000 felons convicted in state courts are not sent to prison. Only 23% of convicts are in prison: 76% are on parole or probation, free on the streets.

Imprisoned criminals serve only one third of their sentences, on average: for murder, 7.7 years; rape, 4.6 years; robbery 3.3 years; and aggravated assault, 1.9 years. Every day in America there are 14 murders, 48 rapes and 578 robberies by convicted criminals on parole or early release from prison. The average career criminal commits more than 180 crimes a year (Rand Corp.), contributing significantly to the nearly 13.5 million violent and property crimes last year. (FBI) The answer to this problem is expanded prison capacity and truth-in-sentencing laws which require violent offenders to serve at least 85% of their sentences.

Juvenile arrests for violent crime increased more than 40% from 1987 to 1996. Arrests for murder alone increased 36%. Gang-related crimes neared 600,000 in 1993, according to a National Institute of Justice study, and gang membership was estimated at more than 550,000. Gangs were responsible for an estimated 40% of Los Angeles homicides. The addition of more than 500,000 men in the crime-active age 14-17 male population by theopulation by the year 2000 will send juvenile crime skyrocketing, according to experts. Violent juvenile criminals who do "adult crime" should serve "adult time."

Crime victims or their survivors are often unfairly barred from participating in the criminal justice process. This problem that can be corrected by victims' rights legislation. For more information, contact NRA CrimeStrike at 1-800-TOUGH-11.


National Rifle Association of America
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